Where I Live: Highland Park – San Antonio Report

The Where I Live series aims to showcase our diverse city and region by spotlighting its many vibrant neighborhoods. Each week a local resident invites us over and lets us in on what makes their neighborhood special. Have we been to your neighborhood yet? Get in touch to share your story.

After living the first 17 years of my life in San Antonio, I could not wait to explore the world beyond. My career took me to Dallas, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, New Jersey, Russia, Oklahoma and back to Dallas. In the two decades away, I grew weary of traveling to and from San Antonio to celebrate holidays and special events with family and friends.

Both my great-grandparents and grandparents owned homes in Southtown, just off of Presa. I was born there, too, so the view of the Tower of the Americas was never out of sight during family barbecues or driving down the street.

When I moved back, I moved to my grandmother’s house. I loved walking to restaurants, cafes, Fiesta events, and even doctors’ offices. The neighbors, old and new, knew my grandmother and my family, which was comforting. But it was too noisy, so after six months of barking dogs and sirens, I moved to the beautiful, green hills of Bulverde, where the humidity dips as you drive past Borgfeld Road. 

I loved the tranquility of the country. I ran the hills during the pandemic each morning and evening with the new friends I made in the area. It was serene until my neighbor broke into my screened porch. She did not call, text or knock on the door — nope, she cut the screen, unlocked the door, waltzed in and unscrewed the lightbulb that bothered her.

That and the traffic crawling into town put me back in the house hunt. I wanted to be closer to my family and inside Loop 1604. My mom, aunt and brother kept talking about how our old hood, Highland Park, was improving. My realtor showed me about five homes here, and I was sold.

Three months later, I met the love of my life, RJ at a coffee shop off of St. Mary’s. We still laugh about the first time he came to pick me up. The Minnesota native, who grew up in a town of 300 people, was leery of some houses with burglar bars and he drove to the wrong house.

It took some convincing for him to leave suburbia after we married, but he has come to love the area. I bet the seven-minute commute and coffee en route helps. Most mornings we stop at Poetic Republic Coffee. Dylan and Marcella, the morning baristas, know RJ’s order, while I am ready to try any new flavor. 

My dad, who also grew up off of Presa in Riverside, told us about Poetic Republic. We love the monthly window question. He has left notes for us, and we respond. RJ has written post-its for me, and I have left some for my mom and aunt. It is the old-school version of a social media post, and I love to read them.

Erin Gallegos Reid places her sticky note response to the question of the month on the window at Poetic Republic Coffee. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

We love the myriad parks in and around our neighborhood. I have walked Bode Park with my Aunt Rachel since I was a child when it was called Highland Park. Nowadays, my mom and Aunt DD join us. Rachel rescues stray dogs. Sometimes I help, but mostly I try to talk her out of it for fear of getting bitten. But she always wins. Well, the dogs do because she finds them a home. 

We share an easy rapport with the Parks & Recreation staff, park police and the other walkers. It often takes me back to the summers when my brother and I played tennis on those very courts. One year, Olympic Champion Zina Garrison coached lessons for us. I hope the kids that play there now have as much fun as we did.

On weekends, my family hikes from South Side Lions Park to Pecan Valley Lake or the Missions, San Jose and Espada. As a kid, I was too scared of the winding, snaking path of Hiawatha, but now it is paved and beautifully lit. That is almost always followed by breakfast at Patty’s or Taco Haven.

RJ and I frequent as many local places as we can. With Dignowity Hill, downtown and the Pearl less than five miles away, it has been all too easy to eat all three meals out. 

After dinner, we walk the trails along the River Walk near Mission San Jose. We have discovered a part of the San Antonio River that reminds him of Minnesota. Some nights we follow that with dinner at Nicha’s Comida Mexicana or the Little Red Barn.

Erin Gallegos Reid (left) and her husband, RJ Reid, go for evening walks along the San Antonio River near the Mission County Park Trailhead. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

We recently learned Fritos and Cheetos, my favorite snack, both started a few blocks away. When we told my dad about “The Food that Built America” episode, he shared his childhood memories of walking to the factory to get Frito Bandito erasers and chips.

We hope the neighborhood continues to revitalize. It is fun meeting and watching the new families move in and renovate while the established neighbors continue to care for their homes.

Breezy evenings find us resting on our porch, waving to neighbors and chatting when they stop by. For the first time in my adult life, I can say I am friends with my next-door neighbors and know we look out for one another. I had that in Southtown but it might have been only because my family lived there for nearly a century.

As time goes by, we hope to see more local restaurant options with a variety of cuisines. We plan to be more active in the neighborhood association and District 3 happenings. Quite a bit of spray paint has been popping up and homeless camps are crowding out certain highway underpasses. Stray dogs roam the streets, but cyclists are not deterred. More police presence would be ideal.

If you told 17-year-old me I would move blocks from my childhood home, I would have never believed you. I love it here; in every one of our spots in my neighborhood, I can still see the Tower of the Americas. We plan to stay and discover what we can do to help our community continue to improve.

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